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rasoulallahbinbadisassalacerhso  wefaqdev iktab
السبت, 08 كانون2/يناير 2022 09:45

Notes on Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?”

كتبه  By Francis Fukuyama
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Notes on Francis Fukuyama, “The End of History?”

As the end of the century [in this case the end of the 80s] approaches, the triumph of Westernliberal democracy again seems the inevitability that it did at the turn of the previous century.This is an absolute triumph of the Western idea. It is seen in the failure of all viable alternativeideas, and also in the spread of consumer culture around the world. This may signal the end ofhistory in the sense of humanity’s ideological evolution, and the universalization of Westernculture.Note: all summary of Hegel’s philosophy is taken strait from Fukuyama. If you don’t like theinterpretation, blame Frank, not me.The end of history is a concept most often associated with Marx, but appearing earlier in hispredecessor Hegel. Hegel was (according to Fukuyama) the first philosopher who saw man as aproduct of his historical and social environment. But unlike later historicists, Hegel did not turnto complete relativism. Rather he saw history as moving towards a point at which a final,rational form of society and state would become victorious. This victory, in Hegel’s view, wasachieved in 1806 when Napoleon defeated the Prussian monarchy at the Battle of Jena. This wasthe victory of the ideals of the French Revolution, liberty and equality, over those of the oldorder.   During the middle of the century, at some of the most turbulent times, Alexandre Kojeve,a Russia emigre in France, was teaching that the flabby, weak-willed, prosperous states ofWestern Europe were forming the “universal homogenous state” predicted by Hegel with thecoming of the end of history

Hegel saw history as driven by contradictions that existed first and foremost on the level ofideas. Human behavior is the rooted in prior state of consciousness. In other words, ideas,mores, habits, religion and ideology, etc. begin as ideas, which can develop autonomously of thematerial world. Ultimately, however, these ideas determine human behavior (albeit perhaps witha lag time while the idea is spread and internalized). This is the absolute reverse of materialistthought (Marxist and otherwise) which holds that ideas are absolutely caused by material factors.Fukuyama uses examples from Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, aswell as other anecdotes of different cultures behaving very differently (Spartan and Athenian,capitalist entrepreneur and aristocrat) to highlight the importance of ideas. Turning to the recentpast, Hegel notes that the success of the NICS in Asia that are often used to prove materialism,actually may reflect cultural factors. He also notes that the reform movements in China and theSoviet Union could not be traced simply to material factors, which would have called for achange long before it occurred. Hegel, it should be noted, saw the victory at Jena as the victoryof the idea. It would not be implemented fully for some time, but the truth had been reachedideologically, and it could not be improved upon. Fukuyama closes this section by noting thatideas clearly are affected by material factors. He separates himself from the teleological claimsof Hegel, claiming that the absolute validity of Hegel’s argument is not important. What isimportant is what it suggests about the importance of ideas. Finally, he notes that he does notsay that liberal economics causes liberal politics, but rather that both have their roots in the sameliberal ideas. Finally, he summarizes the “content of the universal homogenous state as liberaldemocracy in the political sphere combined with easy access economic” (8)Next, in assessing if we are indeed at the end of history, Fukuyama looks to see if anyfundamental contradictions remain which cannot be solved in the context of liberalism, thatwould be resolvable in some other context. In the 20th century there were two major challengesto liberalism: fascism and communism. When World War II destroyed the main fascist nations,the idea of fascism appeared ultimately self-destructive, and therefore was destroyed for theworld. Communism proved more problematic. It raised the direct challenge of an issue (classconflict) that it claimed could not be solved in a liberal system. But, according to Fukuyama, theclass issue has been solved in the West. There are still inequalities, but the system as a whole isfundamentally egalitarian. The remain issues are based on legacies (e.g. slavery and racism)which have persisted, but are fundamentally antithetical to the idea of liberalism. This isreflected in the decline of the appeal of communism and the left in general in the West.More impressive than the failure of communism in the West is the success of Western values inthe East. Most of Asia has accepted economic liberalism, and an increasing number of states aremoving toward or have reached political liberalism as well. What is more, these nations(especially Japan) are helping fuel the spread of consumerism, the precursor of economicliberalism and the bane of other societies, to the broader world. Most importantly, China has(even in 1989) already abandoned the ideas of Marxism for economic liberalism in all but name,and ceased to support Maoists abroad. The abandonment of communism in China is far lessimportant, however, than the abandonment of Leninism in the Soviet Union. By all accounts, theSoviet leaders and people had, by 1989, lost their faith in Marx. Communism still had defenders,but they were self-interested or cautious, not ideologically committed. Fukuyama goes on todetail the decline of Marxism in the Soviet Union, but I will not go into this.There are a few other, less threatening alternatives to liberalism that remain. One is the growingfundamentalism seen in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This arises in large part by the spiritualemptiness of liberal consumerist society. Still, liberalism rose in part, according to Fukuyama,out of the failure of religious oriented society to satisfy people. But only in the Islamic worldhas this taken on broad political form, and the appeal of radical Islam is strictly limited to theMuslim world. The others have largely been satisfied within liberal societies.

Nationalism might form another possible challenge, but it is generally limited, and often theresult of failure to institute liberal society. [While this was before the wars in Yugoslavia, even aquest for a greater Serbia would hardly be a universalist threat to liberalism].It is impossible to rule out the emergence of a new challenge to liberalism or a previouslyunrecognized contradictions, it seems that there is no real challenge on the horizon, and that infact there has been little development since 1806.At this point, Fukuyama looks at the effects of the end of history on international relations. Henotes that the standard view of international relations holds that there will be little change [thiswas, of course, before the actual fall of the Soviet Union and emergence of a unipolar worldcould be predicted]. He notes, however that in fact much past expansionism occurred in thename of illiberal ideologies like fascism, Marxism, and imperialism. In a paragraph that goes abit too far, but also predicts the Mearshimer article assigned for this week, he notes that the “neo-

realist” position would call for us to believe that if China and the USSR were to disappear, weshould (among crazier things) expect West Germany and France to arm against each other again.This section basically describes a democratic peace argument, with the additional note that Chinaand the USSR should be expected to be less belligerent (and support fewer belligerent people) asthey become gradually more liberal. Still, he could not predict the fall of the Soviet Union, andsaw the one possible major threat as a rise of slaphophilic fascism in the USSR.Conflict will continue for some time. There will be ethnic and interstate conflict among the stillhistorical nations. But with no great powers motivated to fight, great wars will disappear.Fukuyama ends on a somewhat sad note. The passing of history means the passing of causes thatwere worth dying for, daring, courage, and idealism. It signals the end of art and philosophy. Inthe end, boredom itself may become the contradiction that begins history again.

Link : https://www.studocu.com/en-us/document/studocu-university/studocu-summary-library-en/notes-on-francis-fukuyama-the-end-of-history/1064140

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